Students discuss differing same-sex marriage views

Americans in several states approved same-sex marriage on their Nov. 6 ballots. Three states legalized it while one rejected a constitutional ban on it.

With over 86 percent of precincts counted in Maine, more than 53 percent of the voters supported the idea. In Maryland, about 52 percent supported it with 98 percent of the voting district counted, and in Washington about 52 percent of voters in half of the precincts counted supported the idea.

Program Coordinator Mary Larkin of the Eastern Michigan University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center said we have not seen a four-state sweep like that in the U.S. before.

“What happened [Nov. 6] was pretty huge,” Larkin said. “I think everyone in this country deserves the same rights.”

Some opponents to the approval of same-sex marriage fear it would interfere with religious institutions. However, in Maryland the Civil Marriage Protection Act said religious institutions will be protected from performing any form of marriage that violates its doctrine.

“There are churches that are open and affirming,” Larkin said. “But what happens in a church doesn’t have anything to do with what happens as a state for civil rights.”

The Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976, a law passed to prohibit forms of discrimination, did not include discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“We have a lot of anti-LGBT legislation in the state,” Larkin said. “It is still perfectly legal to fire a gay or trans person because it’s not included in our non-discrimination policy as a state, so that part is scary.”

Leigh Greden, executive director of Government and Community Relations at EMU, said the Supreme Court has several cases for the next term on whether the U.S. Constitution will place a ban. He said in Michigan specifically, the amendment can make the ban through citizen repeals.

“Legislation can vote for a ballot or petition signatures can be collected, but that requires a lot of time, money and people,” Greden said.

EMU students have different views about same-sex marriage. Junior Katie Reily, an elementary and early childhood education major, said she supports the idea of same-sex marriage.

“Love isn’t defined as a man and a woman,” Reily said. “Homosexuals should have the opportunity to have the same perks as married couples when it comes to health insurance and things of that nature.”

Junior Andre Moses, an apparels, textiles and merchandising major, said he is also in favor of same-sex marriage.

“I think now our state is becoming more progressive and accepting,” Moses said. “I even see this when walking around our university and noticing the many events geared towards LGBTQ students that take place throughout the year.”

However, Moses said he thinks couples who plan to take the step for marriage will likely face hardships from their surroundings, but the state will embrace the change if the law passes in Michigan in the future.

Michaela Wheeler, a junior studying elementary and early childhood education, said she is against same-sex marriage because of religious reasons.

“It is biblical that a man and a woman should be wed and are no longer two but become one,” Wheeler said. “I don’t believe [the law] will pass here because Michigan doesn’t have a homosexual population as much as other cities such as L.A., New York and Seattle.”

International affairs major Amin Al-Qadi and political science major Zach James have a more neutral stance on same-sex marriage. Al-Qadi said passing the law will get it out of the limelight as a major issue.

“Everyone has problems with different parts of legislation that they’ll have to accept,” Al-Qadi said. “The bigger issues right now are foreign policy.”

James said as far as religion, everyone is a sinner and that the law is likely to be approved in Michigan.

“I don’t see people having rallies against it,” James said. “A lot of people are for it and it won’t change.”

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